The stoics had a practice whereby they would meditate on the possible negatives that could befall them in the future. This was not in an attempt to garner pity, nor was it a woe is me exercise in self-indulgence. They wanted to be prepared. Preparation isn’t just about having a plan but also knowing what could happen in the future. As the great Mike Tyson once said: “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
How will life punch you in the face? That is the question you should ask yourself. Too often, folks go through life being surprised by unfortunate events that befall them. That’s the very thing that Tyson was getting at. You may have a plan but that plan falls apart when you’re surprised by that nasty right hook.
The best boxers don’t just plan to get hit, they also study their opponent. They become to know their opponent and anticipate the impact of their strikes. The best boxers aren’t surprised by the punch to the face because they were prepared to have their world shaken in the first round.
Mike Tyson also has another great quote. He said that: “if you’re not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.” An aspect to being humble is recognizing a power greater than yourself, fate. Fate will bring along with it suffering, turmoil, and disaster. It is your choice as to whether these unfortunate events are a surprise or whether you can last a few more rounds
Us attorneys are given a bad rap for always thinking of the worst case scenario. Again, for most of us, this is not an exercise in self pity. Attorneys must be prepared to protect their client from the worst possible contingencies. That’s why we drone on and on in contracts. That’s why we prepare endlessly for trial. And that’s why we look at both sides of every case to poke as many holes in our own argument as possible.
It’s no different in estate planning. I’ve often been asked about many of the things we include in important estate planning documents. Sometimes I get asked: “well what if that never happens?” My answer is always the same: “what if it does?”
Estate planning is all about preparing for the future. However, the actual tools like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are only one aspect of it. The other aspect is sitting with the attorney and practicing the same meditation that the stoics did. Imagine the future and try and anticipate what bad things could happen. “Will I need long-term care like the majority of folks out there? Will my assets be subject to medical debt or liens? Will something happen to me or my spouse that will render us unable to make our own decisions? Will someone try and exploit me financially?”
This meditation is important and requires experienced guidance—something that falls by the wayside with auto-generated online forms (but don’t get me started on those).
Its’s not just the estate planning tools that will benefit you in the future. It’s the consultation, the stoic mediation on the future, that will have similar long lasting benefits as the tools we create for you.
Don’t be surprised by life’s punches. Come see us for a free consultation today.
Brenton S. Begley
Attorney at Law